Every Friday is the long Friday ride. The Friday ride is usually twenty-five miles or more of zone two training, but this Friday was a little different. This Friday’s ride was hard and fast for almost twenty miles with 2,500 feet of climbing for ninety-three minutes of non-stop riding.
The route for this Friday’s ride was one that I’ve done several times but this time, I strung an extra loop that I discovered earlier this year. It’s a challenging extra loop with downhill sections through some technical rock gardens, and some climbing sections with high step-up sections. The name of the rock garden section is Rocky Moto trail (rightfully so too), and I think it’s one of my new favorite trails here in Flagstaff. The first five miles of this ride was a slow grinding climb from 7,155 feet up to 7,900 feet. After this first initial climb there’s a short steep downhill section just before getting on the Rocky Moto trail, and that’s where the fun begins. As I mentioned earlier, there’s a nice mix of some technical rock gardens (not too crazy but enough to keep you focused) and some pretty gnarly step-ups where you’re better off fully committing the send, and if you just second guess yourself and feather the break just a little, you will end up walking your bike over these sections. Once you get through Rocky Moto, you end up on the famous Arizona Trail (a trail that runs north to south through the entire state of Arizona from Utah to Mexico). From this point, you start another slow grinding climb to the top of another popular Arizona trail known as Schultz Creek. By the time you get to the top of Schultz Creek via this ride, you would have done about 2,500 feet of gross climbing over a distance of about twelve miles. What makes Schultz Creek so popular is that it’s about five miles of smooth, “flowy” downhill. It can be super fun and super dangerous because the speed can get away from you really quickly (e.g. I broke my arm once on this trail). Either way, it’s the perfect end to a nice grind of a ride all the way back to the trailhead. For information on this ride, you can find the trails on MTB Project. The trails are Lower Moto > Pipeline > Rocky Moto > Arizona Trail > Schultz Creek. All these trails strung together make like figure-eight kind of loop, that starts at the bottom of Schultz Creek.
What made this Friday ride different from others was the exertion. From the very start of the ride, I got my heart rate up into zone three, and kept there for most of the ride. Usually, Friday rides are typically long-slow distance rides with an emphasis on zone two heart rate, but I was feeling strong today. I loaded up on Generation UCAN (a superstarch energy drink that provides the benefits of a glycogen spike without the insulin spike that follows resulting in a crash). During the ride, I also had two water bottles (one on my bike cradle and another in my jersey) that contained a mixture of Generation UCAN that did a good job of keeping my energy at a constant level.
I really enjoyed this ride, but even with the higher aerobic level than other Friday rides, I do feel that I could have strung another ten miles. An additional ten miles to this ride would have made this a really good thirty mile training session.